Boxes, tape and stress

Hi Everyone!

I have time this morning for a quick visit before I start boxing up more stuff for our move (if you noticed a lot of eBay tape in the photo, I sell on eBay and get the tape for free). I hope you have had a great week.

Tomorrow we take the first of many loads to the rental house. As happens with every move, no matter how organized I am, already I am finding myself needing things that are packed up. Somehow I inadvertently took D.’s box of books he’s reading to the storage unit and now have to dig through to find those before he gets grumpy. There will probably be a couple of nights sleeping on air mattresses before every thing gets moved. We sketched out a plan this morning of what goes when. Horses, bees and cat will likely be the last to leave here. They are all pretty self sufficient and can get along just fine without us.

We will be spending at least two days repairing the fencing of the pasture where the horses are going. We are spoiled here because they have a creek for water during the day. The new place, at least to begin with, will not have that option so we also have to set up a watering system for them. If it were just humans moving we could probably knock this whole move out in two days. Accommodations for our furry, feathered and winged family members adds much more time to the process. 

I would like to ask for your thoughts and prayers for a few people please. A close friend of my Dad’s had a bad accident on his farm. It’s going to be a very long recovery. He’s lucky to have survived. This morning I got word from one of my dear friends that her husband had a massive heart attack yesterday. He survived, but is also going to have a long recovery and she has been battling cancer for almost a year. Please wrap these folks and their families up with prayers. Thank you. 

My sister and I were discussing this week the different ways we have been trying to combat the heavy stress load that 2019 has heaped upon us (and it seems like lots of people surrounding us). If you are struggling with stress, illness, anxiety, etc. here are some ways that might be helpful to try:

1) Eat healthy. Put down the chips, cookies, energy drinks, alcohol, etc. Don’t even buy them. They are going to mess up your sleep, blood sugar, energy levels, skin. Veggies and fruit primarily. I know it’s hard if you are staying at the bedside of a family member in the hospital. When friends ask what they can do, ask them to bring you healthy food. Don’t ask me why, but it seems like hospitals usually are one of the hardest places to find good food. 

2) Do not watch the news! You have your hands full right now taking care of a personal crisis. You can’t do anything to change the world at this particular time so don’t even watch all the crazy that the media bombards us with.  Find old comedy shows like I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show that will make you laugh and release some of those much needed endorphins. 

3) Exercise. Walk the halls of the hospital, do yoga in your bedroom (YouTube has plenty of instruction), just stretch often to release tension. Stress builds up in your body and the next thing you know you are sick. I was the lucky recipient of shingles thanks to stress. You DO NOT want those.

4) Escape. No, don’t pack your bags and leave no matter how much you want to.  Find books and movies that take you somewhere else. Keep it light. My sister and I are both devouring books right now. I prefer fantasy and science fiction to take me away from earth completely. I try to avoid any with lots of violence. Now is probably not the time to read or watch Game of Thrones. 

5) Hobbies. If they are portable, hobbies can be great when you have to wait, and wait, and wait for appointments. Something you really have to focus on is wonderful if worry keeps running around in your head. I have been knitting like a fiend. If my brain won’t shut up I knit a complicated pattern. If I just need to burn nervous energy then a simple boring sweater sleeve is perfect. 

6) Journaling. The act of writing worries down often lessens the impact. Sketch, scribble, doodle if writing is a struggle. No one but you has to see it or even have a clue what it’s about if you just make abstract marks that have meaning to you. There is a reason that Art Therapy exists. A cheap little notebook and a #2 pencil is all you really need. 

7) Fuzzy friends. There is also a reason that therapy animals exist. Your pets sense your stress and may even be stressed themselves if you have been away from them frequently. Find some quality and quantity time to spend with them. I’m surprised our cat, Sweetie Pie, has fur right now. Most evenings SP and I have been having snuggle fests on the back porch. Horse therapy is a real thing too. If you have a horse you know that, but if you don’t maybe you have a friend who does. See if they will let you just spend some time brushing theirs. Seriously, you can feel your blood pressure drop while grooming a horse. 

Life is constantly throwing something at us, but sometimes it comes in waves instead of drops. I hope some of these help whatever you are facing. 

I’m off to box, tape and load. Be careful out there this week!

February?

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? My week has been as erratic as the weather here in North Carolina. It has been a week filled with ups and downs, surprises (not necessarily of the good kind), laughter, tears, stress, sadness, dread, hopefulness. You name it, I’ve had it this week. It has matched the February weather here spot on. Yesterday was 77 degrees, a week ago we were busting ice so the animals had water. Today it was 63 at 6 am and will be falling into the 20’s tonight. I’m hoping the weather levels out as well as life. I’m not sure I can get through another week like this one.

In case you are dealing with life in all its crazy forms as well, I just want to remind you to find some time each day to give yourself a physical and mental break. My tag line on this blog is “adventures in creative living.” Sometimes you have to get creative to just hold on to the roller coaster. You probably don’t have hours, but even 15 minutes can do a world of good.

I recently started giving myself 1 hour a day, morning or evening, to do regular artwork. There is so much on my plate right now that I found there was some resentment starting to bubble up. That is not good for me or those who have to live with me. I managed four of the five days this work week. I finished my commission and delivered it yesterday! This is a birthday present to the Mother of these three gentlemen. She had a similar portrait done of them when they were young and they are giving her this one of them as grown men. 


I have started a new drawing and as usual keep my knitting with me when I’m in a waiting situation. Several of my evenings this week have found me mentally, physically and emotionally drained. Too tired to read, knit or draw, I escaped to YouTube and watched art tutorials or American Pickers. Whatever it takes to give yourself a break. Well, there are some things it’s better to avoid when you are stressed so choose wisely. 

Find something you enjoy and preferably something that gets you into a creative flow and takes your mind off life for awhile. Music, games, sewing, gardening, playing with your goofy dog. Something to make time stand still and let your heart and mind rest and recover. 

I have about six boxes of stuff to clean out today. I was about 108 items short of my January goal. No lack of stuff just a lack of time. This week as I jump into another round of the minimalist challenge I need to clean out 46 items so far for February. Right now (before breaking into three unopened boxes) I have exactly 100 items either being donated or trashed. I found an entire box of socks that belonged to my son and D. had a big box in our closet. I estimate that neither of them will need new socks for the next 10 years! Sock hoarders!

Wishing you a peaceful week.

Happy 2018!

Hi Everyone!

Happy New Year! I’m running a little late this week thanks to a round with the trending crud/flu that took me out of commission completely for about three days. I am rarely sick so it drives me crazy to not get all of my To Do list done. I think one of my goals this year is to not be so hard on myself. I am often my own worst enemy. 

So do you make resolutions or set new goals at the beginning of the year? I always do. I like the feeling of a fresh start. About November I start pondering what did or didn’t happen that year and what I want to accomplish in the new year.

In 2017 life happened and most of my plans had to be put on hold, but I had set a goal of improving my knitting skills and learning how to knit socks. Little did I know just how important that seemingly little goal would be in 2017. I ended the year with two good pairs of hand knit socks and my first knitted sweater. That doesn’t sound like much but honestly I think my sanity was saved by knitting.


My actual amount of knitting included four prototype socks until I found two patterns I liked and managed two finished pairs of socks. So how did my knitting goal save my sanity? I am a born maker. I think with my hands more than my brain alone. All through school I got in trouble for drawing in class. It has now been proven that students who draw in class retain information better. Unfortunately back in my day, the teachers didn’t believe me when I told them that. 

I had already started working on socks when my sister-in-law died and I had yarn on the needles. When Miss L. came to live with us, our newly painted and remodeled guest room/office/studio became her room. Suddenly my life line of creative endeavors got packed up and sent to storage. I was left with just my drawing pencils, paper and my knitting. I no longer had my paints that I had enjoyed so much in the previous year and was making vast improvement with. My easel is a big, complicated travel easel that would not fit anywhere in the house now. I will be honest. I was heartbroken. Anyone who has a creative drive will understand. It’s like oxygen for us. We HAVE to do it to be a tolerable, stable human being. 

Knitting became my only outlet. There was so much going on during the past six months that I rarely had time for anything more than a row of stitches in stolen moments or in the middle of the night during weeks and weeks of insomnia as my poor brain tried to solve some great big problems. I’m very thankful for the two commissioned drawings I had this year. They gave me the opportunity to keep my drawing skills fresh and something to focus on besides what was going on around me and feel a little more normal.

When I say that knitting saved my sanity, I mean that the rhythm of the needles calmed me when the stress was overwhelming, the beautiful colors and texture of the yarn fed my soul, the difficult parts of the pattern focused my mind on something away from the frustration I was feeling and I could escape the world for a little while with my earbuds, some music and my knitting. I will forever be thankful that the simple act of making something got me through such a difficult time. The people that live with me will also be thankful! 

To top it all off, I now have the MOST cozy, comfortable socks and sweater that I have ever owned.  Now I know why some knitters get addicted to sock making.  


So, what is on my 2018 goal list?  Lots and lots of making!  I already have a new project on my needles but it will be a gift so I can’t divulge more than that right now. There are actually several gifts on my list. Miss L. and I will be sewing some gifts and hopefully some clothes for ourselves.  I am IMPATIENTLY waiting on my new table easel that was delayed by the snow storm. THERE WILL BE PAINTING DONE THIS YEAR! I will fill in details as I go along in the year. 


2018 is starting out with a feeling of relief of surviving 2017, a settling into the new normal for us, an appreciation for the simple, everyday joys and a looking forward now. 2017 involved much looking into the past and though it wasn’t my past, it was hard to watch the sadness and pain that those near to me were suffering.  It’s good to see smiles, hear laughter and sense peace in them now. 

I wish you all a beautiful 2018. Go make something good.